Plummer and Shanahan in This Together

Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer and head coach Mike Shanahan have a symbiotic relationship. True, the same can be said for just about every head coach/quarterback pair in the NFL, but Plummer and Shanahan are different. The survival of each in Denver depends on the success of the other.

Symbiosis - n: the relation between two different species of organisms that are interdependent; each gains benefit from the other.

Symbiotic - adj: used of organisms (especially of different species) living together but not necessarily in a relationship beneficial to each.

It's been almost eight years since Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway rode off into the sunset after bringing the second of two Super Bowl championships to Denver. At the time, Shanahan was regarded as a football genius. He was clearly the missing link to bring Super Bowl wins to the Mile High City. The Broncos have been to the playoffs three times since, but haven't won a single game in the postseason.

Now the luster is starting to come off Shanahan's legacy. The Denver media and fans are starting to question how much Shanahan really had to do with the Super Bowl wins. Maybe it had more to with Elway and running back Terrell Davis and Shanahan was just along for the ride.

With Elway gone, the Broncos limped along with the likes of Steve Buerlein, Bubby Brister and Danny Kanell. Although the Broncos could run the football, the team could never seem to get good consistent quarterback play. It should be mentioned that the Broncos also had Brian Griese and Gus Frerotte, two quarterbacks who are currently starting for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins, and as of writing, have an equal or better record than the Broncos.

Enter Jake Plummer, the former "next Montana" quarterback drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 1997. Plummer came into the NFL with a reputation for being a winner. For the next 6 seasons Plummer did just the opposite, never registering a quarterback rating higher than 79.6, and tossing 114 interceptions to only 90 touchdowns.

Although Plummer had guided the Cardinals to numerous come from behind victories, there was still some doubt around the league as to whether Plummer was indeed a starting caliber quarterback. Shanahan, despite these general views, felt that Plummer could be a great quarterback in the right system,. Thus he signed Plummer to a lucrative contract in 2003 after he was cut by the Cardinals in a cap clearing move. Plummer felt that he could be a champion on the right team, so it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Plummer was an instant success as he immediately improved the Broncos misfortunes of the past. He led the Broncos to a playoff berth after they had missed the playoffs in the last two years. The Broncos lost to the Indianapolis Colts in an embarrassing game, but the foundation, it seemed was set. Led by Plummer a season later, the Broncos returned to the playoffs but lost again to the Colts in another embarrassing effort.

Despite his experience, it seems that Jake Plummer still panics in big games. Much to the chagrin of his coach, he still makes costly interceptions at the wrong times. Now there are some who are questioning the wisdom of bringing Plummer to Denver in the first place.

The media and the fans are running out of patience with the Plummer and they are questioning if Shanahan made the right choice in choosing Elway's true successor.

This is a critical season for Plummer and Shanahan. Their respective fates belong to each other. Both must have success to continue their stay in Denver. That has to start tonight against the Chiefs. If not, Denver and their fans could be in for a long season.

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